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Dr Russ Blog - Zinc for the Common Cold?
Zinc for the Common Cold?
Created on 1/18/2013

It's cold and flu season, and everyone is looking for effective ways to prevent and / or treat viral upper respiratory tract infections. But looking just at the common cold (the flu is an entirely different illness, with different symptoms and complications) many of people are drawn to the idea of using zinc.

Zinc is a mineral with many actions in the body, one of them being to support immune system function. It is present in a variety of foods including beef, poultry, beans, shellfish and nuts.

Studies looking at supplemental zinc for the common cold show promise - some trials showed a shorter duration of illness if zinc were taken within 24 hours of cold symptoms developing. Research even suggests a possible preventive role when zinc is take for 3-5 months.

And there are a few things to consider:

- taking zinc for long periods of time or in high doses can deplete your body's stores of copper - copper is also important to proper immune function. If you intend to take a zinc supplement look into getting one that also provides 0.5-2.0 mg copper per day.

- high dose zinc may lower "good" cholesterol levels (HDL) and contribute to urinary tract problems in men

- zinc lozenges sometimes cause nausea

- zinc nasal sprays have been reported to cause loss of the sense of smell in some people

If you decide to use zinc to help your immune system fight off a cold do so within 24 hours of developing cold symptoms, and only use the product for 3-7 days.

I wouldn't use long-term zinc supplementation to boost your immune system until we have more data.

Most multivitamins contain zinc - if yours does, be sure it contains a little copper, too.

And remember - zinc is not a flu treatment.

Stay warm! Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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